Thursday, March 28, 2024

Letter #12

Her name was Cloudier but now

known to you as Storm


never in the same place twice but

nevertheless she strikes and


illuminates a moment enough

to mistake her lex talionis for


cool vengeance of she who docks years and

subtracts pleasures judiciously saying


‘no matter how well spent

it’s spent with no account now’


Could the mind be cloudier though

and that path ahead a faultline?


So walk backwards uphill

Get nowhere on life’s treadmill


But restore the knee of wisdom

the sanity of tiny relics and sadness


of riots past and pagan screams

and all that disappeared under foot


                                                                        8 January 2024

Letter #10

The pertinent thing you see

is the Pantheon


which channels light

not water


and replenishes each day

The impertinent thing you don’t see


is unknown to theology

That’s the thing to look for


as you won’t trip over it

nor will it hit you


Follow the scent of dusk

As it darkens


and no owl takes flight

you’ll be hollowed out


or swallowed up

into an apter metaphor


                                                                        7 December 2023

Letter #8

Octavian messed with us

as August inherited July’s sun


and I appointed someone

to do my skiing for me


Then thunder struck

and it occurred to me


that being so little

of unknown pronoun


being lost to me eternally

returned to me unexpectedly


namelessly and so ethereally

compared to he who was imperially



and was blond they say

                                                                        20 November 2023

Letter #6

                                     ‘Do I wake …?’



Her joke’s on the onlookers

who make a spectacle only of themselves

as they crowd her room each day


By night she forgets to exist

The galleries and all their work

obligingly go dark for us


Impish experiments thrive instead

like the unexpected gift

of a cake stall in the middle of hell


Such a beautiful humour is so inhuman

it’s a cloud that hovers modestly about her

rendering her unreachable


                                                                        27 July 2023

Letter #4


‘Prithee say on.’ Hamlet, II, ii


Let the knife do its work

and cut the loaf


as we live invested in a body

of preposterous ideas


Abandon hopes plans ships

and yourself


The yard’s a mess of fallen twigs

Sodden turf records


the prints you left

but couldn’t cover


You heard the gate creak

and her foot disturb some gravel


Her fragrance and image

flowed between your fingers


Her crumb of sustenance

and drop of toxin


needn’t disappoint you

now you know


she prays you

say more

                                                                       11 July 2023

Saturday, September 23, 2023

From panic to this birth breath




We begin in discord

in the poem of the goat-footed god



of panic

and pandemic 


But then I promise to breathe again

only when I remove my self as the obstacle that became me





Don’t walk!



Don’t fuck!



Don’t panic!


Our rule is you’ll never know

when you’re following rules and when you’re not.


You’re a child of diversity

enslaved to uncertainty.


You were given gods as you were given empires

that make and break the rules.


You were left playing in the garden

when that horror began.



Don’t look!


You look like a random child who wouldn’t exist without war

without end

without the breath of labour

and the final breath


I am the fright

and the trip you didn’t see

as you were walking backwards


not walking

not fucking


The rule is panic

and nomadic


And someone called and I heard no echo

but heard all about the panic spread by

miasmas, clouds and black holes


and I loved you more than any virus

more than the ways and byways

that led you to me


before all signs were pointed in wrong directions

before the twisting of reinforcing


before grounds were made immaterial

reimagined while no one was looking


I said that if you can you must

and yet you cannot


you deliver nothing

but doom

and blackmail with a smile.


The world is the image in the mind of its being

The pantheist in you is not grasping that pandemic


and panic

that peoples all your minds.



Flower shop


That involuted orchid

opens out to be

its own question

and proffers its own beginning


Buy back the terror

of the touching fingertips

of young tulips

that regard only themselves


Never ask the roses

what they really want

Never choose them

nor be pricked into actions


the end of which

is not in sight




One rose, then, for my endless love


I saw you in a forest

just as a welcome shower of rain began


I couldn’t tell how it was

that you moved like that


between the growing trees

with such animal limbs


Could someone tutor me?

The graces of your soul


translate to gestures

and the gentle way your hand


may have touched

How little do I understand?


The forest gives way to a garden

that you overlook


fresh in gumboots

Your mind is fully at play


the earth gives softly beneath your feet

Could the thought be more vivid?


But just in case you didn’t see

the slip of paper


nailed to your tree

What on earth could it say?


The crude and beautiful word or

not a word nor even art


but just a childish doodle

a drawing of the heart



Let’s wander


The park has no gate

and so it asks us for nothing


The lawn spreads away behind us

but there’s no sign to tell where we were


Life like this is an unmarked surface

on which we cannot help but stand


on a trail of pretexts

And when we part


one of us will be the lesser

found lurking here wondering


For all we speak no one will hear

the words we came to say


We will’ve forgotten the softness of skin

the brownness of our eyes


and the temper of the day

Branded darkly


there’s the question-mark on the surface

and in our tone of voice


Did I hear thee well then

murmuring this conversation’s closed?


The park admits all comers

but the lawn admits no answers



A lesson, then, on College Hill


Learn about what a body can do

what cannot be put to paper or to flame

and when to empty the mind like a bin


When full daylight barely lights the Way

there are too many objects


When all possibilities

will have been



realised and

half forgotten



and only then

may the universe sigh

and once again contract






Don’t love!



Don’t breathe!



Don’t think!


There’s a growth on your thoughts

as it spins from your gut


gets twisted and knotted thoughts out



We are tied for love

and bodies know what occurs next

as they cannot help but breathe

that birth breath

as if each breath

even their last

were a rebirth.


It’s motion that muddies the water

But stillness clarifies the soul


What you think your soul is

becomes your next cry


as the mind’s in struggle

and every breath’s an effort


or a push against the weight of others

lasting till failure


To decide who will write whose epitaph

and fret about it no more


means to go where the breath is

the only thing left to attend to


without division

It’s a tender and pliant baby thought


a sensation of rain on a sweaty body

and an unknown lady who smiled


or the heart reaching through the earth

for someone in distress


a force of silence

an end of waiting


for nothing but

this birth breath



For Frankie Chu

September 2023


Monday, August 14, 2023

Letter #2

  ‘… most experiences are unsayable’, said Rilke.


That crowd’s dispersing anyway

and its famous din’s gone with it

Can’t you hear it dying down out there?


Permacrisis was last year’s word

but we enjoy its trochees now

as they stumble off the tongue


One moment there were flashes

Now there’s only this light on

over a table that holds the news


Admit that there’s no connection then

between events and how it feels

to be another you

                                                            5 June 2023

Thursday, May 25, 2023


A small staircase makes an inexplicable obstacle

to a hall that hasn’t enough light


There are suitcases to be searched

for things to discard before we depart


In the kitchen food scraps wait to be thrown out

while all this time the sun has been letting us down


And a vehicle’s missing making us wonder

how we’ll get away from this damned mansion


I could understand why you were so inconsolable then

Wasn’t frustration the meaning of our job there?


But a young man appeared saying I’d frightened him

and led me down to another overgrown path


Trials like his aren’t wordy or argumentative

but nothing got done without noises and scratches


They tell me this labour of ours lasts only so long

and release promises a return to mother




Friday, January 13, 2023

Machiavelli’s muse


Thankful for as much warmth as darknesses afford

they sit between flickering hearth and stone walls


as the lady darns

Outside snow flurries sing


how you are hostages here

They slowly repair their knowledge


of the agonies and strife

joys and communion


as events they may stitch together from

voices in the streets or sightings of departing horses


Enclosed as a bottled essence

each darkness would be equal


were it not for such tales

informed by rags and veils






Wednesday, November 05, 2014

A lesson on College Hill

Learn about what a body can do
what cannot be put to paper or to flame
and when to empty the mind like a bin

When full daylight barely lights the Way
there are too many objects
strewn like tumbledown boxes
hovering liquids
talking books

So light
light thing
talk me through
and lighten my way

When all possibilities
will have been
realised and
half forgotten

and only then
may the universe sigh
and once again contract


Sunday, January 05, 2014

The north wind is high

The north wind is high and warm
fetching a sweet scent

with the first signs of
long and heavy rain

A man I spy engaged in
the simple acts of folding laundry

is a folder of illusions
and a rearrangement of feeling

The brute fact of love
echoed through the windows

open to the morning’s warmth
The sparrows squabble on the pavement below